The third of four group stages for the Overwatch World Cup has come to a close. China and Australia punched their tickets to Blizzcon this November. China finished the weekend 5-0, with three of their games going to a map five. The race for the second spot was much closer, with three teams (Australia, Denmark, and Sweden) all finishing 3-2. Australia’s 4-0 win over Sweden helped secure their spot, with a 14-7 map score. Denmark finished 3rd with a map score of 12-9, and Sweden placed 4th with a map score of 11-10. Thailand could only take one win away this weekend, and Spain crashed hard with a 0-5 finish, only winning 3 maps total.
Other than finding out which teams would be making it to Blizzcon 2018, what else was learned from this group stage?
A Strange New Meta
The current meta of Hero picks is one that, for many, is quite refreshing. Of course, D.Va still has the highest pick rate among all heroes. However, team compositions with a Reinhardt and Zarya are becoming more prevalent. Ana seems to be picked more consistently as a support alongside Lucio. During this group stage, every Hero except for Torbjorn was played. New Hero Wrecking Ball was played a fair amount. Sombra and Doomfist seem to be Heroes that more DPS players are having fun with, and it works as well.
The diversified meta means that teams can have multiple strategies, instead of running the same players over and over again. Spain struggled to adapt when their plan was not working. This led to their struggling, and their last placed finish. The ability to adjust and adapt to how the other team is playing is a key part of competitive Overwatch, especially so with the way the game stands today. Will this same scope of variety carry over to the second season of the Overwatch League?
There were a number of technical issues during this Overwatch World Cup group stage. Included were various audio issues, such as loud feedback, mics not being on, or the caster’s mics still being hot during an interview by Soe. There was an entire game that had zero in-game audio for fans to listen to. There were also lighting problems the first day.
Finally, there were multiple times that the game had to be paused, both before and during games, for various technical difficulties. While the casters were able to deal with the breaks, there should not be that amount of pauses for technical difficulties. While I can understand that this was a brand new venue, and that production issues are bound to happen, the amount of issues is the problem. This is Overwatch at one of the highest levels, and the production side should reflect that.
As always, there are players at each group stage that impress the Overwatch community seemingly out of nowhere. Xu “guxue” Qiulin for the Chinese team was one player who stood out this stage. His impressive tank play helped his team on more than one occasion. He had quite the play on Winston against Australia to secure the first map. Playing very well on Winston and Reinhardt, guxue truly helped his team on various occasions.
With eight new teams entering the Overwatch League, guxue could be a strong addition to many teams after his group stage performance. With many teams seeming to be waiting until at least after the Paris group, only time will tell what teams are interested in him. With the addition of three new Chinese teams, as well as the overhaul of the Shanghai Dragons, guxue could be a player that teams fight over.
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Featured Image Courtesy of The Overwatch League
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